Craig MacTavish season wrap up
So let’s start with a summary of MacTavish’s season wrap up…
- Overall team strength and depth and competitiveness needs improvement.
- Says these will be addressed, through a large degree, through personnel changes (i.e. waiting for the current guys to get bigger, or stronger isn’t going to help)
- Needs core guys to be better defensively and without the puck. Need structure in their game to have success.
- They need to add some specific role players that have a threat to score, even marginally. He says their current role guys, the best they were ever going to be on a given night was a “non factor”. Not a lot of upside in their current group.
- Says the few times that the role guys had an impact, they ended up winning games.
- Defense needs more foot speed to play a style that best suits the skill set this team has. The defensemen have to be able to move the puck quicker and skate up ice and open up ice for the forwards.
- Noted that if they can’t improve the backend (through trade/free agency), they will still be better next year. Noting Klefbom is a complete player, but not wanting to put too much expectation on a young guy. Also excited about Marincin, saying he’s the most immediate guy, but will likely need another half year in the AHL but could be pressed in right away if he has a good camp.
- Says the Oilers have lots of depth in every area, but they have a lot of the same and need a different complexion. They’re optimistic they can do it.
- Was asked if we can expect as many as 8 new Oilers next year. He said that was fair… figures that there will be at least 6 to 8 new members here.
- Doesn’t sound like we should expect any coaching or scouting changes.
- Can’t continually point fingers at the coach since we’ve gone through 4 coaches in 5 years (give or take). He wants to give the coach the tools he needs to have greater success going forward.
- Says they need to beef up goaltending throughout the organization. They want to hire a european goaltending expert.
- Named a few goaltending prospects to be interested in: Eric Comrie, Philippe Desrosiers, Zachary Fucale. Sounded like he said that the odds of drafting a good goaltender aren’t higher when you pick them in 2nd round vs. in the 5th (I guess indicating goaltending is a crap shoot, which is why most say never pick a goalie in round 1).
- “I don’t ever remember in the 80s, Edmonton being a bad destination to come”. Speaks about how Edmonton should be a good destination for players that they are trying to attract. Basically, he dismissed any worries that we are hockey Siberia. “There is a lot of time to be retired”. I agree with him here.. it’s way overblown. Players didn’t want to come here before because we were noticeably falling apart and on life support. That will change once the team is more successful, and it already has started to change.
- Optimistic that they can acquire some good players to grow and change this team.
- Says toughest thing to get in this game is offense, and we have quite a bit. Now we have to set around this offense with some “meat and potatoes and guys that play well on the other side of the puck”. Says the 3 last place teams in the East from last year are now in the playoffs (Leafs, Islanders, Habs). I hadn’t noticed this.
- Spoke fairly well of Ryan Whitney.. definitely no hard feelings in his comments. Says he handled things well and was complementary of the team/city, even though it would be hard to do when you’re a vet like him in his situation. MacT took the high road… good stuff.
- Ryan Smyth will be back.
- Says they aren’t decided on Ryan Jones yet. They hold him in high esteem because of his “core values with the group”… but a decision hasn’t been made yet.
- If the pick winds up 7 or 8, I think the Oilers are going to really shop it around, and MacT’s words support that belief. He says they will be receptive to moving back with that pick to add some help now. If it’s 1, they’d be crazy to move it… everyone wants Seth Jones. The Oilers are no different.
- Mentioned that “everything has its price”, but it’s highly unlikely your guys like Hall, Nuge, etc. will be part of any discussion. That’s not his bold move, folks.
- Spoke quite highly of Sam Gagner too. I didn’t get any impression at all that he was for sale. The team likes his leadership. He says he’s the character they want. They would rather take a marginal step backwards to have the culture they want because it will be more impactful in the long run. He says it’s been “too much of a circle in (the locker room) and that’s going to change”.
- Says “we don’t need to add the high end skill, we need to add the complementary pieces”. Notes that those pieces aren’t EASY to come by, but a lot easier.
- Says 90% of your goals are in that last 5% of effort. In other words, he needs all his players to dig deeper, play more reckless, work harder, commit more and go to the tougher areas.
- On whether the Oilers need more size in their skilled forwards (i.e. trade for that size): “It’s a question of chemistry, really. Three small players with similar skill sets seldom create the synergy you need to make a dominant line. You need someone who can highlight the skill set of the group that we have, and those are the guys we’re going to be looking for.”
- Says Dubnyk took a step forward this year, but has room for improvement. Doesn’t think goaltending was what got this team to where it was this year though.
- Wouldn’t address Khabibulin or any other specific players like Hemsky, because of the “human component”. Wouldn’t talk about any buyouts either.
- On Peckham, he said: “Consequences”. The consequence for him was that there were no injuries for him to get back in. He came into camp unprepared, and that forced the Oilers to look for a player who could do his job. That player was Fistric, and he seems to have replaced Peckham.
- When asked if Gagner can play center when he can’t win faceoffs, he said he thinks he can. He said the defensive zones were critical. Might pair him with someone who can win those draws. Might also consider moving him to the wing.
- Noted his analytics people said that for every 40 draws you lose in your own zone, 1 will end up in your net within 30 seconds. So he certainly notes the importance of faceoffs.
- Reiterated something that he spoke of on HNIC After Hours. It seems the Oilers are becoming more focused on hockey analytics. They have some guys that aren’t necessarily hockey guys, but they are number crunchers that can tell you good specifics about a player via pulling out their TI calculator (my words). This is a step in the right direction, even though I’m not a “stats guy”. I think it’s important to have a good balance of “what you see” and supporting stats.
The draft lottery is tonight. Here are the odds for the Oilers pick:
1st overall: 4.7%
7th overall: 83%
8th overall: 12.3%
The playoffs kick off Tuesday, so it is time for some predictions.
Here are the series:
Wild vs. Blackhawks
Red Wings vs. Ducks
Sharks vs. Canucks
Kings vs. Blues
Islanders vs. Penguins
Senators vs. Canadiens
Rangers vs. Capitals
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins
Let’s hear your predictions in the comments section…
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